The research on the connections between self esteem and relationships is quite extensive. Not only does your self esteem influence how you think about yourself, it also plays a role in your ability to receive and accept love from others. It influences how you treat others in your life, particularly romantic partners.
When you enter into a relationship with a low level of self esteem, you are more likely to become dissatisfied over time. This means that your partner is also likely to become unhappier and the relationship will suffer.
Your self esteem is born from early life experiences and continues to develop over your life. If your early life was characterized by unhealthy relationships, then it is likely that you will have “inherited” a low level of self esteem. This may lead you to mistreat those around you (even if you don’t want to and don’t realize just how you do this). The impact of early abuse or neglect is not only limited to your own self esteem, but also on your thoughts about others and consequently, about loving relationships.
How we feel about ourselves influences how we interact with and connect with others – but how does this happen? As it turns out, it happens in many ways. Here are just a few of the significant connections between self esteem and a healthy relationship.
Self Esteem Influences Attachment
Your level of self esteem influences how you attach to others. For instance, low levels of self esteem (or confidence) typically creates a low level of trust in others. Depending on how and when these feelings originated, you may have either avoidance or anxiety issues that make it hard for you to connect with others.
At one end of this spectrum, this may cause you to distance yourself from others, ignore your partner, dismiss others’ feelings toward you, and even do things to hurt your partner. This stems from your belief that someone else could not possibly love you, so you should protect yourself from the inevitable hurt they will bestow upon you.
Alternatively, your low self esteem may make you extremely anxious about how others’ feel, causing you to be preoccupied with their behaviors. As a result you may become clingy or overly needy towards others because you are sure they will leave you at any moment.
Self Esteem Guides Communication
Effective communication is crucial in a healthy relationship, so if you lack the ability to be open and honest about your feelings and needs with others, it will influence the nature of the relationship.
When it is difficult for you to communicate about your thoughts or needs – either because you do not have the confidence in either yourself or your relationship, then you are likely over time to become unhappy in the relationship. This could be avoided. It is another way that self esteem is connected to the health of your relationships.
A low self opinion makes it difficult to articulate what you need in order to be happy, to listen well to your partner, and to be assertive about your boundaries in a relationship. Your partner may be able to discern your needs adequately, but if not, it is likely that you will become dissatisfied.
Alternately, your low self esteem may cause you to defer to your partner’s opinions and needs. This is likely to make you resentful and angry toward them over time.
Self Esteem Influences Your Boundaries
How much you care about and value yourself affects what behaviors you are willing to accept from others. For example, you are more likely to put up with disrespectful, controlling, and even abusive behavior from a partner if you do not feel you are worthy of better treatment (or if this is the treatment you have experienced previously and consider to be normal).
Low self esteem may make it difficult for you to say no to your partner or may cause you to take things very personally unnecessarily, when in reality they may have nothing to do with you at all. If this occurs, you may have difficulty reconciling differences with your partner when you feel insecure about your own needs and choices.
It is possible that low self esteem may lead you to feel you are responsible for others’ feelings or needs. This can result in conflict or defensiveness from your partner.
Self Esteem Guides Autonomy
While each of us has a need to be connected to others it is equally important to be an individual and stand on our own. To be autonomous, you must have self esteem. And if you lack autonomy, your partner and relationship must shoulder a heavy burden for making you feel complete.
Without self-esteem, you will find it difficult to spend time alone or to honor your own values and needs. To be intimate with another person means you recognize their needs as well as your own and honor them equally. This awareness is more difficult when you suffer from low self esteem.
These are just some of the ways that your self esteem is connected to and plays a significant role in the health of your relationships. To overcome this, it is worth fostering a stronger sense of self, and building your confidence, to help not just for yourself, but also for those around you who care for you.
Without positive self esteem, you will have a challenging time communicating your needs to others, and this means it will be more difficult to connect on a deeper level. These are essential elements in being an equal partner to someone else, and that is critical to building a strong, lasting relationship.
“No-one can survive on their own. No-one.” Game of Thrones